Working from home, which, if done right, has the potential to advance work-life balances. This new way of working is more flexible — a benefit we need to maintain for sure, but we must not miss this opportunity to pass us by without reflecting on what we have learnt about ourselves and our businesses.
After four months of lockdown and as we make plans to return to our offices where possible what nuggets of information and new strengths will we bring with us!
Aidan McKee, Chief People Officer at WaterWipes shares his intriguing insights on the subject:
As we experiment with new ways of working, leaders have the opportunity to rewrite the playbook, what would you rewrite!
As a business, we’ve invested hugely in our people infrastructure over the past 5 years. Our approach has largely been structured around developing physical team presence across multiple geographies. Complimentary to this plan is a developing IT infrastructure, which in the large part has served us very well up to this point. Given the opportunity to rethink this, we would likely consider accelerating our plan to redesign and deploy changes in our IT and Business Systems. Whilst the transition to work from home has been smooth for us, it’s also presented some clear opportunities around our system efficiencies and challenges. We’ve been very fortunate to experience continued growth throughout the pandemic, and our need to flex and adapt as a business has continued to develop alongside this.
What have been the two biggest challenges?
Providing a sustainable rather than just a quick fix solution around employee childcare has presented some challenges for us. As a business, we’re very clear that people are our key asset, so naturally, we’re keen to create reasonable working solutions for our teams. The reality of parents needing to balance childcare, home-schooling and very busy careers has created some excellent learning opportunities for us. Additionally, the benefits of working from home can be easily outweighed by a loss of routine. We’ve found a need to work with several of our teams to help draw up guidelines around the start and finish times. The issue has very much been one of people working much longer hours than is expected, rather than one of people not working their core hours, and has prompted us to revise our ‘Home Working Policy’ to a ‘Flexible Working Policy’, bringing a new set of business norms with it.
If any what have been the two most positive?
Understandably I may be biased in this regard, but I must call out our amazing people! Business continuity has been a huge challenge for a lot of businesses in recent months, so to have a team of people at all levels who have not just kept the show on the road, but have played a role in our continued growth throughout that period is nothing short of superb! There is no doubt we’ve experienced challenges, but the tenacity, commitment and passion of our people have all helped drive excellent business results. Secondly, I commend the agility we’ve shown as an organisation. Like other organisations, we’ve needed to flex and bend quite a bit to complement the changing environments of our suppliers, customers and consumers. I’ve been amazed at our ability to do this seamlessly throughout, and again the willingness of our people to go the extra mile when needed.
What factors feature in your business now that did not feature four months ago?
Our ‘WaterWipes Academy’ is the launchpad for all employee Learning & Development and internal knowledge transfer processes. In the space of 4 weeks, we transferred all 2020 classroom-based programs and modules to an online/video led platform.
The medium to long-term plan with this change is the introduction of a fully integrated online ‘Learning Management System’ which is now due to commence in Q4 of this year. Employee well-being, whilst always a focus for us, has also experienced a ‘make-over’. Conscious of the many challenges Covid-19 has brought to our employees professional and personal lives, we’ve taken a very pro-active approach to well-being through partnering with Zevo Health. Our partnership provides a holistic program incorporating Emotional, Environmental, Occupational, Financial and Physical wellness. This is all in addition to well-being packs, Steps Challenges, virtual Pilates, HIT and Body Transformation classes all delivered by a WaterWipes Personal Trainer.
What would you like to see happening in the next few months?
The ideal would be a vaccine that allows us to get back to a new level of normality. This crazy world-changing event has allowed a lot of businesses and individuals to reset, so a new normal with all the learnings we’ve picked up along the way would be great! As a simple start, getting back to the office at least on a flexible basis would be great, and of course our continued success as a brand and business!